Top 10 Differences Between College and High School



I come from a small town, and even smaller high school. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. A single rumor could destroy somebody’s reputation. People seemed two-dimensional and boring, and people’s status depended upon the wrong things. I so desperately wanted to leave my high school and move onto a different atmosphere with people who had a common interest in participating in their community, caring about their education, and working hard in whatever they do. I was also looking for a crazy adventure and a lot of fun. Thankfully, Rutgers changed my life for the better and provided exactly what I was searching for.

10.) There aren’t any “cool kids”.

I used to attend a really small high school. There was a clear division between who was in the crowd and who wasn’t. Now, I was not in the in crowd. Even if I wanted to be, I would’ve never been accepted there because my interests were not the same as theirs, and I never really cared about them. But some people do care, and some people worship what these people do: what they’re wearing, who they’re dating, what the latest rumor is. All of this petty drama disappears when you go to college. No one cares how popular you were in high school. In a school like this, you’re definitely not going to remember everyone’s names. ‘Cool kids’ are not a thing here. Everyone is just another person, and you’re going to find friends with the same interest as you. Attending a school with 40,000 undergrads may seem intimidating, but for me, it was probably the best thing ever.

9.) No one cares what you wear.

There’s no dress code (that’s right ladies, you can wear the shortest shorts you want because you’re an adult now and nobody can take that away from you). Here’s how college works: nobody cares what you’re wearing, and you’re not going to get in trouble for wearing a certain thing. Of course, you should dress appropriately for your setting (like don’t wear a bikini to math class) but once again the choice is yours. You can dress nicely, or you can wear pajamas. It literally does not matter. Morning classes I find myself primarily in sweatpants, however later classes I might take some extra effort to put on a pair of jeans. Sometimes I go to class and see people in suits and ties. Literally, everyone wears what they want and nobody judges anyone for it.

8.) Waking up at 9AM feels like the crack of dawn. 

I don’t have an 8AM class. My earliest class begins at 9:50AM and I literally feel like I’m dying when the alarm goes off. I honestly don’t know how I used to wake up at 6AM everyday to do my hair and makeup and then a full day of classes. Your college schedule is so much more flexible and easier to work with. Of course, you should properly manage your time so you don’t fall behind.

7.) You’re going to go out.

In high school, I would really only go out on the weekends with my friends, and even then I wouldn’t be out late because my parents would always be worrying and there wasn’t really anything fun to do in my town. However, living in a college town is very different. There are plenty of things to do. You’re going to go out. You’re making a lot of new friends so you’re going to want to hang out with them.

6.) You walk everywhere. 

Most of my classes are on the same campus so I basically walk everywhere. If I want a coffee, I don’t have to drive twenty minutes to get to Dunkin Donuts. Instead, it’s a 5 minute walk to Au Bon Pain or a 12 minute walk to Starbucks. Sometimes I miss driving, but I like to think that by walking I’m burning off the 250 calorie latte that I’m about to consume.

5.) Mom and dad can’t help you.

The first time I felt really stressed out at Rutgers I didn’t know what to do, so naturally I called my mom. After crying and panicking, I angrily hung up on her in the middle of the conversation because I knew she couldn’t help me anymore. Complaining to my mom wasn’t going to do anything. As a matter of fact, complaining to my mom was pathetic. Instead, I had to start seeking out help on campus and figuring out what I needed to do for myself to make sure I was doing the best I possibly could. Being away from home is overwhelming at first, but you’re going to get the hang of it easily. For me, it took that one phone call to realize that I needed to figure everything out by myself from now on. I couldn’t rely on other people anymore. This is probably one of the best lessons college has taught me so far.

4.) Homework is actually important.

In high school, I would always do my homework. But that doesn’t mean I’d actually try. I’d never really do the readings, and if I wasn’t feeling the math homework I’d totally BS my equations for credit. In college, you typically don’t get credit for your homework. But if you want to get good grades and understand the material, you’re going to want to do it. Make sure you’re doing your readings and finishing your math equations, or else you’re going to fall behind in class.

3.) You live away from home.

I love it because of the freedom it gives me; I love how my room is decorated exactly how I want it, and how my desk is my own personal little space, and it all feels like my new home. It does get cramped sometimes, and it does get messy here easily (it feels like I’m always cleaning), but living away from home is probably one of the most exciting experiences of my life and I’m happy I decided to board here rather than commute.

2.) You have much more school spirit.

In high school, I didn’t have that much school spirit. In high school, I overall wasn’t enthusiastic at all. Maybe because I went there by default, or I just didn’t feel like I fit in there. College has provided me an entirely new outlook on my educational community. I LOVE it here. I love the energy that the student body has, the drive people have to succeed, and how important learning is to everyone. That’s going to sound nerdy, but people attend Rutgers with a common interest: we all want to do well. Being surrounded by people who work just as hard as you is really encouraging and motivating. Loving your college and having school spirit is really important. It goes further than the classroom too. At football games, everyone shouts the chants. People are seen all over campus wearing scarlet. The love for our school is noticeable throughout the campus, and it’s easy to call a place that’s so lively and energetic your new home.

1.) These are ACTUALLY going to be the best four years of your life.

I’ve only been attending Rutgers for 2 months, but I can already tell it is THAT much better than high school. I have so many exciting stories and so many happy memories that have been created within only a few weeks. I’ve never felt so content with my place in life as I am now. Rutgers has really encouraged me to break out of my shell, challenge myself as a person, and become more independent. As a result, I am much happier and excited for my future to come. I surely will not take my time here for granted.